Visual, performing arts on the rise following committee’s formation

forward arts gutshall

Trecia Chedister chats with artist Fred Gutshall — who, with his brother Keith, produce turned wood art — during the Laurel Hill Spring Arts Festival April 13.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Monday, April 29, 2013 at 07:08 PM.

CRESTVIEW — When local arts organizations extol the virtues of visual and performing arts in the community, it's easy to dismiss it as culture-vultures tooting their horns. However, when the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council praised the arts community's efforts to enhance the region's cultural life, community leaders took notice.

The Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 establishment of an Arts and Culture Committee, along with increasing outlets of creative expression, has ensured north county residents have cultural influence, which can mean improved quality of life.

During a Florida League of Cities workshop last year, Arts and Culture Committee Chairperson Rae Schwartz and former Crestview City Councilman Charles Baugh learned that businesses seeking a location or to relocate look at the community’s livability, which includes shopping, schools, sports and the arts.

 Since its formation, the committee has worked to elevate the arts’ visibility, including having a presence at festivals and other community gatherings. It has welcomed local arts and cultural organizations into its fold, and is finalizing plans to have regional artists exhibit at monthly chamber of commerce breakfasts, generally attended by 200 or more business community leaders.


The community arts center

Through its outreach to the arts community, including offering free exhibition space for artworks, the Crestview Public Library has evolved into the community's de facto arts center. Bi-monthly rotating exhibits on the walls and in lobby display cases include local artists’ works and collections including vintage film posters and World War II artifacts from the Baker Block Museum.

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